Things Every Cook Needs to Know

Food/Cooking - Cooking
By: Wordsmith    
18-Mar-2013

Introduction:This List My 5 article and the one to follow is meant for those people just learning about the joys of cooking. Age is not an issue here. It does not matter whether you are 13 or 30, if you are just learning the fine art of cooking, these are things that you will need to know to get the most enjoyment from the time you spend in the kitchen.

  • 01

    Braising

    Braising is a French term that refers to a combination method of cooking that involves both moist and dry heat. Typically the food is first seared at a high temperature and then finished in a covered pot with a variable amount of liquid, resulting in a particular flavor. Anything can be braised, but this term is usually used in conjunction with meat, in particular cuts of meat that benefit from long, slow cooking to become tender. To braise a meat, you usually begin by browning the meat although the browning step is not essential to the braising process. The braising process is completed by placing the meat over a low, open flame or in a moderate set oven. A moderate amount of liquid should be used with the meat i.e. broth, wine or tomato juices. Cover the pot so that the juices condense on the lid and drip back down on the meat, self-basting the meat. You can add vegetable and seasonings to the braising process as called for by the recipe you are using.

  • 02

    Stewing

    Stewing is quite similar to braising except the meat is cut into small pieces and it is browned at a higher temperature before being placed in a pot with the other ingredients - vegetables and liquids that just cover all the ingredients. The pot is covered or at least partially covered and the stewing process completed at a reduced temperature. Stewing like braising is an excellent way of making tougher cuts of meat more tender.

  • 03

    Sauteing

    Sauteing is one of the most universally used processes in cooking. Sauteing can be used with everything from fish to vegetables to meat to noodles. Sauteing means "to jump" in French. Sauteing requires you to toss the food about in a sauteing pan almost constantly. Sauteing is actually a cross between searing and stir-frying. Sauteing requires the use of fats, but you can choose between butter or any of your favorite cooking oils. Properly sauteed food should be browned, sometimes only slightly, sometimes more caramelized, and the interior cooked through using this method. When sauteing, the heat comes directly from the foods contact with the pan so make sure the pan is hot enough before placing the food in the pan.

  • 04

    Stir-Frying

    Stir-frying is not rocket science, but it does take a little practice to produce a stir-fry that looks like it was done by a professional cook. In a classic stir-fry all the pieces are cut to a uniform bite size. When doing a stir-fry you need to have all the ingredients cut up and ready to go before you reach for the stir-fry pan. Stir-frying is done over a very high heat using very little oil so the food must be kept in constant motion - stirring the food in the pan with an appropriate utensil and by flipping the food using the pan itself. When stir-frying place the foods in the pan starting with those that require the most time and ending with those that take the lease in pan time. A large skillet will do the job, but if you find that you are doing a lot of stir-frying, invest in a good Wok, the traditional pan used for stir-frying.

  • 05

    Searing

    Searing refers to the browning foods, usually meats and fish, in a pan at the beginning of the cooking process. The searing process caramelizes the natural sugars in the food, allowing another layer of flavor to emerge, and also can add a pleasing texture to the outside of the food. Searing is an essential step even for dishes like chili being made in a slow cooker. The meat will cook without searing first, but it will lack the flavor of a properly seared meat. If you want proof of that, try preparing the same dish both ways - first without searing the meat first and then after searing the meat first.




Final Thoughts

Next time I will cover the last five essential cooking processes - steaming, baking, roasting, broiling and grilling.




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